The Different People You Will Meet in Ilo-Ilo, Philippines
STORY: I remembered my last trip to Ilo-Ilo. Troubled. Wounded. Soul-Searching. Others would think this province is just a sleepy town, with nothing much to do. Others would think Ilo-Ilo is one of those boring provinces in the Philippines. If you don't know anyone, don't fret for you will surely go back home from this province with a thousand photos, too many memories one for the writing, and an unbelievable kindness shown upon by the lovely Ilonggos.
I booked a flight from Manila to Ilo-Ilo one way. I told myself, i wanna see what this province has to offer, and not be pressured with time. A lot of people i work with are Ilonggos and seem like really cool people. So, off i went to the second earliest flight to Ilo-Ilo city back when the planes used to land in the city and not in Sta. Barbara. I sat in one of the three-seater planes. A girl beside me on my right was wearing her sunglasses dozing off, the old lady on my left was praying the rosary even before take off.
Now I feel terrified. Braving the unknown alone. Going to a place you don't know a single soul. How am i going to survive in Visayas, with the exception of Boracay Island? But i didn't care. I was too excited to see what the future holds for me in this place.
I compiled a list of different people you will meet in Ilo-Ilo Province of the Philippines.
1. Are you a sinner? Are you a saint? Are you troubled? Are you praying for the right one to come? Are you in serious need of reflections/realizations. Ilo-Ilo is a prayer town with so many breathtaking churches. It's impossible to miss a church every after thirty minutes.
The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in the town of Miagao, Iloilo is one of the Philippines? architectural and religious gems. Built between 1787 and 1797, its fortress-like design suggests its dual purpose as a place of worship and as a fort used in defending the town against moro raiders at the time. It is one of only four (Augustinian-built) churches in the country to make it to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.
Going to this church was a breeze. Rode two jeepneys (there's a sign that says UPV Miag-Ao), and chances are you may be dropped of right in front of the church. Beware, as the ride may take long but you will see how the scenery changes, and the people here are more conservative. I went and spent the longest time here, in all of my church visits. I looked around and was amazed by the age of this church yet its structure is uniquely Filipino. The people here are great. The lovely girls from UP Visayas complement the already charming little municipality.
I walked around while waiting for a jeepney to go back to the city. I stayed at one of those quaint bakeries. Ordered a few pieces of bread for a few pesos and a bottle of coca cola. I am just amazed how simple life can be as compared when you're living in busy Metro Manila.
The Jaro Cathedral is among the churches in the Philippines that has its belfry separated from it, across the national highway and situated in Jaro's Plaza. Historically, was used as a lookout tower for sea raiders. The historical marker of the church states, that Philippine hero Graciano Lopez-Jaena was baptized there.The Jaro Cathedral is the first and only cathedral in Panay built in 1864. One of its high points in Panay's history was the visit of Pope John Paul VI, conducting a mass in 1982.
I remember vividly, this is where i went one afternoon, a little hungry. I told this story over and over again. After i went up the stairs and heard what was the last fifteen minutes of the mass, with pure Ilonggo homily, i sat and prayed silently. A few minutes after, i found myself in the park right in front of the church, walking around and smelling what was butter being cooked. I bought the best and most memorable merienda of my life. Mango shake in one of those little plastic cups and the infamous pancake which i re-ordered again twice because it was really good. I sat in one of the benches alone while most are with their families. I missed home. But there was an unwavering warmth that i feel from the people.
La Paz Church
La Paz, called Lobo, Llaunon or Ilawood, then Iznart after Gov. Manuel Iznart, was a newly established as a parish in 1868. In 1847, Fr. Candido Gonzales built a temporary church and convento of wood, bricks and tabique pampango. The present church was constructed from 1870-74. The church is a squat and less elegant version of the San Jose church in Iloilo. Neoclassic features, and rustication stand in sharp contrast to the bricks used in the church. Two engaged columns supporting a triangular pediment bear the date 1970, apparently recent additions.
The first thing i noticed upon entering this church is its architecture with warm hues of brown complementing the bright rays of the sun. It was beaming from across the highway. Littered with people walking hearing mass late in the afternoon, with a park right across (more on that later) and ambiance that is impeccable.
One of the most prominent landmarks in Iloilo City is the Church of St. Anne, which looms above the old Chinese district of Molo. Its towering gothic design distinguishes it from the typical baroque-influenced churches in the country. Inside, the beautiful wooden retablo provides the gothic focal point, with its rich tapestry of spires and niches crowned by pointed arches. The recently restored dome hints at the design?s Romanesque influences. Complimenting the gothic theme beautifully are the Corinthian columns running along the nave, each one hoisting an image of a female saint ? a unique feature among all the churches in the Philippines.
2. Are you tired of driving in Manila? Do you want to save up on big bucks riding those private taxis? Public jeepneys can sometimes be a hassle when its really hot outside, but the real joy of exploring Ilo-Ilo is by riding one of those colorful jeepneys
Everywhere i go, be it going to Breakthrough for the best seafood restaurant in the world and ordering my first love, Scallops
Or exploring the vast land of UP Visayas, the only university i know where there's a beach waiting for you a few walks away. Wow.
Or maybe riding the wrong jeepney. Who cares?
Or going to the same place again and again everyday, just because it's pretty damn hard to miss... Jeepneys have never been this COOL!
3. If you like antiques, old world charms, anything architectural, you want to go back in time, those baroque houses you can't find so much now, then head here for you will still see houses lined up in almost every corner.
I don't know if this house is abandoned. But it appears to be more than fifty or sixty years old.
4. Are you lazy? Are you tired of spending the afternoons walking in the mall, driving around, doing all chores. If you just want to do NOTHING, then, i think this province is the perfect place to go to. Don't get me wrong, this province isn't boring but if you want to be bored then this place i highly recommend is in La Paz. This is the park right across the church.
Even the photo makes me want to chill and relax in my bed.
Entrance, this is very similar to the Espanya Entrance of University of Santo Tomas, my Alma Mater.
One afternoon, I sat on the field. There were a lof of people around; high schoolers playing football, girls dressed up going to the church, women selling snacks, men smoking sitting in one corner. And there i was, not from there, looking at the surroundings. A few minutes later, i lied down and just watched the clouds. And then i woke up, it's about half past six in the evening already. I will never forget that because i was too relaxed i didn't care about time, i didn't care about where i was. I slept and it felt good.
5. If you want a drastic change in your life. Head to Ilo-Ilo, the land of infinite possibilities. I was on my fifth day around the city, and i was waiting for my flight back to Manila at night. I thought my stay wasn't complete yet. I needed to do something memorable in Ilo-Ilo. I want to remember this province forever. And what i did was unthinkable.
Off i walked across town. Looked at handicrafts. Bought a bottle of cola. Walked around more till i came across this shop.
There i was paying about P20 for a shaved head roughly 10 minutes in the making. I gave a tip of P50. For a look that is uniquely Ilonggo. How can i forget this province where i shaved my head for no reason at all? Now, i sometimes think of shaving my head again, but if ever I'm doing it again, it would be here.
If you are alone and don't know anyone. I say don't you worry for you will go back home with the greatest treasure this province can offer, its friendly people.
I met this family vacationing in Guimaras, they asked me to join their drinking session. I did. The next day, i hitched a free ride back to the ferry. It started when they paid my boat ride back to Ilo-Ilo, and then paid again my jeepney to a hotel they recommended. I didn't spend a single centavo and i earned so many friends. Sometimes, i think about how nicely i was treated when i went to Ilo-Ilo. This trip was so memorable because the people of Ilo-Ilo treat their guests as their own family.
As i look back, i remembered once saying..." If i were to retire when i get old, this is where i will stay for good. "
And up until now my mind hasn't changed.
Source 1/ Source 2